Following leadership debates broadcast on television Monday night and radio last Friday, only NDP leader Adrian Dix is scheduled to appear at an all-candidates debate in Vancouver during the provincial election campaign.
Green Party leader Jane Sterk and B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins are both running in ridings outside Vancouver. Liberal Premier Christy Clark, running for re-election in Vancouver-Point Grey, is opting to avoid all-candidates meetings altogether.
Clark drew criticism last week for being a no-show at an all-candidate debate in her home riding. Former Liberal party president Andrew Wilkinson, the candidate for neighbouring Vancouver-Quilchena, instead represented the premier at the April 25 event hosted by UBC's Alma Mater Society at Saint James Hall. He had previously been turned away as Clarks fill-in at another all-candidate debate earlier in the month.
Dix, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear in an all-candidates debate in his home riding, Vancouver-Kingsway, on Thursday (May 2) beginning at 7 p.m. at Colingwood Neighborhood House.
Marjorie Cohen, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University, said its not unusual for incumbent premiers to skip debates in their ridings. She said Clark would have taken a risk taking on the NDPs David Eby, whom she beat by only 564 votes in the 2011 byelection, and the other main party candidates.
Often a sitting premier will not debate anyone other than the leaders of the opposition, so in this she is following what many have done before her, Cohen told the Courier. The risk for her now is that the undecided voters may take offence and feel she is taking the riding for granted. I guess Christy Clark has determined that she has more to lose from the riding debate than she has to gain, and she may be right. Shes the seasoned politician and Eby is the novice shes have to demolish him to win anything much, and hes not a pushover.
Dix, who won 16 per cent more votes than Liberal runner-up Liberal Bill Yuen in the last election, will face off against new Liberal challenger Gurjit Dhillon, a recruiting coordinator for the RCMP running for office for the first time, as well as Green party candidate and fellow political newcomer Gregory Esau.
Derrick Harder, a volunteer for NDP candidate Gabriel Yius campaign in Vancouver-Fraserview, points out that riding debates, unlike party leader debates, depend largely on community groups to organize events and invite candidates to attend.
We dont set them up ourselves, said Harder. Its really up to folks in the community to organize and put it together and if nobody does, there is simply no debate. Its up to us to make ourselves available or not as the case may be. Theres only one so far that weve been invited to, so Im hoping there will be more.
Yiu will debate Suzanne Anton (Liberal) and Stuart Mackinnon (Green) on seniors issues today at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, 3076 East 49th Ave., starting at 7 p.m.
Other upcoming candidates events include a multi-party forum on climate and energy policies today (May 1) at the HiVE beginning at 7 p.m. at 128 W. Hastings St. Wilkinson will once again represent the ruling party at the debate, which will also include NDP Vancouver-False Creek candidate Matt Toner, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant Green candidate Barinder Hans and Vancouver-Point Grey Conservative hopeful Duane Nickull.
An event is also scheduled for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant candidates tomorrow tonight (May 2) starting at 7 p.m. at the Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre (920 East Hastings St.) starting at 6:30 p.m. A meet the candidates event for Vancouver-Fairview also takes place May 2 at The Terraces, 1570 West Seventh Ave., with Liberal incumbent Margaret MacDiarmid, the NDP's George Heyman and Green candidate Matthew Pedley at 2:30 p.m.
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